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ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin; Police Clash with Paris Protesters; Investigating Trump; Alison Hammond New Host of "The Great British Bake Off"; NATO Protecting Europe's Energy Facilities; Credit Suisse Shares Close 8 Percent Lower on Friday; Hunter Biden Sues over Shared Data. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 02:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to all of our viewers watching here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, wanted on the world stage: the International Criminal Court issues a warrant for Vladimir Putin, accusing him of war crimes in Ukraine.

But will the Russian president actually be arrested?

We'll break down where things go from here.


HARRAK (voice-over): Anger boiling over in France: violent clashes between protesters and police, as people take to the streets to condemn plans to raise the country's retirement age.


HARRAK (voice-over): Plus Trump's lawyer ordered to testify. What the ruling means for the investigation into the former U.S. president's handling of classified documents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: We begin with a historic decision by the International Criminal Court. For the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russia's president over alleged war crimes. The court says Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for his scheme to illegally deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The ICC has also issued a similar warrant for Russia's so-called commissioner for children's rights, who oversees the deportation effort.

According to Ukraine and its allies, the scheme forces many Ukrainian children to undergo political reeducation and to be adopted by Russian families. Ukraine's president says at least 16,000 children have been removed from their country so far.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Separating children from their families?

Depriving them of any opportunity to contact their relatives?

Hiding children in Russia, dispersing them to remote regions?

All this is obvious Russian state policy, state decisions and state evil, which begins with the first official of the state.


HARRAK: Well, the ICC's chief prosecutor says the court is reviewing many atrocities in Ukraine and that there could be more charges to come. Here's what Karim Khan told CNN's Clarissa Ward in an exclusive interview.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are many different war crimes or potential war crimes, that we've seen, playing out, in Ukraine, whether it's the bombing of the theater, in Mariupol, where people were sheltering, civilians were sheltering, whether it's the atrocities of Bucha.

Why did you decide to pursue this line of prosecution, first?


Firstly, I stated, when I was outside St. Andrew's Church, in Bucha, about a year ago, just less than a year ago, that Ukraine is a crime scene. And there's many terrible allegations that have been received and we're analyzing them and reviewing them.

But before my election, as prosecutor, before I started in June of 2021, I also identified crimes against all, crimes affecting children, are under-investigated and under-reported.

And this is why, when you look at the factual matrix, the actual evidence that we received, it was only right and appropriate, to focus on the most vulnerable parts of our society, which are children.

WARD: We understand that Ms. Lvova-Belova is the Russian Commissioner for Children. She's been very vocal and visible in her role.

How did you take the next step, also, in terms of pushing, for the prosecution, of President Putin himself? And how unusual is that?

KHAN: Well, I've said repeatedly over the last year that we don't start with targets. We start with the evidence. We investigate incriminating and exonerating evidence equally. We want to find the truth. We are statutorily required to get to the truth. And we, as I've said, started looking at a range of, a wide spectrum of allegations.

But the evidence was quite clear, because of what has been said, publicly, from those individuals, what has become available, from publicly-available sources and also the result of our direct investigations, ourselves, cooperation with other states and also Ukraine, that these crimes appear to have been committed. And one follows the evidence.

And the simple reality is these crimes have not been hidden.

It's the first time in history, any head of state of the permanent members of -- the five permanent members of the Security Council has had a warrant of arrest issued, by independent and impartial judges.


KHAN: It shouldn't give us any celebration. It's a matter of real regret that we've had to do this. The evidence compelled us to move in this manner.

WARD: It's a historic moment, certainly.

But will we ever see President Putin in the dock?

KHAN: Well, the president of the court made it very clear, our job is to independently and impartially, without any political motivations or agendas, look at -- apply the law to the facts, the facts that have been verified that have been independently collected and rigorously analyzed.

Now it's for others to decide whether or not arrest opportunities are available and if so to enforce them.

The first is many thought it was impossible, that powerful leaders like former President Milosevic, former President Charles Taylor, Karadzic, Mladic, Jean Kambanda of Rwanda, Khieu Samphan of Cambodia, the list goes on, Hissene Habre would ever be subjected to the rule of law. And yet, they were. Some of them are in custody.


HARRAK: CNN's Nada Bashir joins us with more.

What have some of the reactions been to this move by the ICC?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laila, as expected, Moscow has rejected this case put forward by the ICC. We heard yesterday from Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov tweeting that this is both outrageous and unacceptable.

We also heard from Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, who has accused the ICC of being biased and prejudiced and, in his words, being a "puppet" for larger Western nations.

But we also heard from Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, who underscored that this would have no meaning to the Russian Federation as the country does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. Take a listen.


MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country. Russia is not a member of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.

Russia does not cooperate with this body and possible pretenses for arrest coming from the international court of justice will be legally null and void for us.


BASHIR: And as you hear there from Russia's response, it is doubtful, questionable as to whether or not this will have a legitimate impact on the reality on the ground on Russia's day-to-day actions, on the aggression that we are seeing in Ukraine.

And in fact, we heard from the ICC's president, speaking with CNN yesterday, saying this isn't a magic wand. This isn't going to immediately end the violence that we're seeing in Ukraine or the war crimes allegedly being committed.

However, the ICC's hope and belief is that this may act as a deterrent measure. Of course we also heard from the European Union's own foreign policy chief, acknowledging this is a significant and historic step. It is unprecedented, the first time we have seen a sitting head of state facing this kind of warrant.

Josep Borrell also signaled this is only the beginning, this is a first step. And, of course, as we know from our teams on the ground, there are countless teams investigating Russia's aggression in Ukraine as it happens.

So while the impact may not be immediate, this is an ongoing, long- term process. And as you saw there in Clarissa Ward's interview, that evidence that is being gathered, will in years to come, prove crucial for any international effort to bring about legal accountability when it comes to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

When it comes to the allegations of war crimes committed by the Russian Federation and indeed by President Putin.

HARRAK: Nada Bashir reporting. Thank you so much, Nada.

U.S. President Joe Biden says the International Criminal Court makes a very strong point in its case against Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Biden voiced his support for the investigation into the Russian president's alleged war crimes, calling it, quote, "justified." And he raised another point: neither the U.S. nor Russia are members of the ICC. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more now from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hours after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin, the White House expressing support for accountability for perpetrators of war crimes.

But the White House and President Biden on Friday stopping short of welcoming the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant outright.

In a statement from the White House's National Security Council spokeswoman, they say, quote, "There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine and we've been clear that those responsible must be held accountable.

The ICC prosecutor is an independent actor and makes his own prosecutorial decisions based on the evidence before him. We support accountability for perpetrators of war crimes."


DIAMOND: And on Friday I also had an opportunity to ask President Biden for his reaction to this arrest warrant. Here's what he said.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's justified. But the question is it's not recognized internationally by us, either. But I think it makes a very strong point.


DIAMOND: And what you hear from the president there is exactly why we're not hearing a full-throated endorsement from this administration of this latest move by the ICC.

And that's because the United States is not a signatory to the Rome statute which established the court. And historically the U.S. has questioned and fought the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, particularly as it relates to U.S. military personnel, pointing out that it is not a signatory to that statute.

Russia, though, is not either. And inside the administration, there really has been a rolling debate over how much support the U.S. should extend to the criminal court as it investigates war crimes by the Russians in Ukraine.

In December, though, Congress did modify legislation that previously restricted an administration's ability to help the International Criminal Court, now providing a lot of authorities for the administration to do exactly that.

But President Biden has yet to make a decision on what he will provide to the court. In the meantime, the administration has been helping others who have been investigating Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including the Ukrainian general prosecutor's office -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.



HARRAK: Joining me now is Iva Vukusic, an assistant professor in international history at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She also happens to be a war crimes expert and a visiting research fellow in the Department of War Studies at King's College London.

Iva, good to have you with us. In these two war crimes cases the ICC has decided to specifically focus on the alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Why do you think the tribunal chose to focus on this particular crime and narrow their scope?

IVA VUKUSIC, WAR CRIMES EXPERT, UTRECHT UNIVERSITY: That's a very good question. I think one thing we should remember is this potentially is only the beginning. There may be other cases against these or other potential charges in the future against these individual -- these individuals or others.

So I think what is really important to say is the one factor that might be influencing the decision is the fact that a lot of children are still in these homes with families in Russia. So in some way, it might be a question of sending a message that people should not be engaging in this kind of behavior that is unlawful.

Indeed, the prosecutor has called it a war crime. So that may be one reason.

The other reason is that there may be -- the prosecutor may still be working on other allegations and investigations so that, in a couple of months' time or in a couple of weeks' time, we might be seeing something else.

And the third factor might be as well the fact that there's so many alleged war crimes happening in Ukraine. I think the prosecutor general in Ukraine has something like 72,000 potential cases of war crimes.

So it also may be an issue of coordination, where the International Criminal Court potentially takes on some of the allegations while other actors, Ukrainian domestic authorities, take on something else. So it might be a combination of those factors that led to this important decision to focus on these particular cases.

HARRAK: Now the ICC alleges that the Russian leader is directly involved in the forced deportation of children. Is the forced transfer of children considered to be a war crime?

VUKUSIC: Well, the prosecutor of the ICC definitely thinks so. In fact, it can also be a case of genocide. The Genocide Convention from 1948 in its Article 2 defines potentially the transfer of children from one group to another group to -- if the facts support it, it can also be potentially a case of genocide.

So we definitely can assume that the prosecutor would not come out with a request for arrest warrants if he didn't think that he had the evidence to prove it.

HARRAK: Now short of President Putin no longer being in power or, for some reason, losing his immunity, how could this particular arrest warrant affect the Russian president?

And also what kind of impact does it have on Russia's commissioner for children's rights, Maria lvova-Belova?

VUKUSIC: Well, one thing is for sure. It's one step closer to making Russia and Putin and all of the sort of officials that are implicated in some of these allegations, one step closer to being a complete pariah state.

It isolates these individuals. It makes it much more difficult for them to travel. So in any case, it makes life more (INAUDIBLE). One thing that I think is also really important to remember is that these kinds of allegations don't go away.

So this is going to hang above their heads until they're arrested and potentially tried or until they die. So this is not something that is easily waved away. And I think the symbolic kind of power of this is also to say that other, you know, partners of Putin.


VUKUSIC: His colleagues, people around him are definitely going to now think twice about what have they -- what have they been doing and potentially what consequences this might have until the rest of their lives.

HARRAK: So it's very heavy on symbolism. But for victims, obviously accountability is imperative.

If it's unlikely that President Putin will be arrested, extradited or brought before the tribunal, are there other ways justice can be delivered to victims?

VUKUSIC: It is true that it's right now unlikely. But I would like to remind viewers that other cases, some might know about crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the '90s. General Ratko Mladic or another one, Karadzic, who were also -- they were fugitives for 15 years. No one thought they would ever be prosecuted in The Hague.

And then they were caught and then they were prosecuted and now they're both serving lifelong sentences. So what I want to say is that this is really a long game and that it might not be possible now.

But as circumstances change, politics and international politics change, domestic politics change. So depending on the outcome of the war, depending on the situation in Russia domestically, Putin might be out of power.

Putin might be a burden to some of the people that come after him, which might, you know, result in him actually being extradited. So it might not happen soon but I wouldn't say that it's impossible.

HARRAK: Eva Vukusic, thank you so much for joining us.

VUKUSIC: Thank you.


HARRAK: Well, the announcement from the ICC isn't fazing some of Mr. Putin's key allies, at least not publicly. Beijing says Chinese president Xi Jinping is expected to fly to Moscow early next week to meet the Russian president.

It's a notable show of China's support for Russia, highlighting the no-limits partnership the two countries announced back in February 2022, just weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine.

China's foreign ministry says the visit will take place from Monday to Wednesday at the invitation of Vladimir Putin and confirm that the war in Ukraine would be a core part of the talks. U.S. officials say they will be watching closely for any signs China might be moving forward with providing weapons to Russia.

French president Emmanuel Macron moves to raise the pension age without putting it to a vote and triggers a furious response in parts of the country. A look at the demonstrations that show no signs of stopping.





HARRAK: New protests in the streets of Paris Friday night after the government raised the pension age from 62 to 64. Riot police threw tear gas into crowds gathered at the Place de la Concorde as some protesters chanted for president Emmanuel Macron to resign.

Friday night's skirmishes are the latest since he decided to push through the contested pension overhaul without a full parliamentary vote. Senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Paris with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in the Place de la Concorde, at the head of the Champs-Elysees, currently blocked by riot police, we're just outside the important building around which all of this has been focused, the National Assembly.

And it was there on Thursday that Emmanuel Macron's prime minister decided to use his presidential fiat to drive through reforms to the economy here, which would mean the pensionable age would go from 62 to 64.

Now that has ignited two days of demonstrations focused here on the Place de la Concorde but that have spread elsewhere in Paris. Earlier on in the evening, these monuments under reconstruction were very much the focus of the demonstrations; indeed, of the rioters.

There were pitched battles backward and forward, as the police tried to not only contain the violence and prevent these monuments and other sites that are being restored from being damaged.

Elsewhere, of course, there was a burning of cars and the previous day of rioting as the police managed to drive people away from this area. But they took the fight deeper into the city.

Now the local police have said that so far about a dozen -- and that number is likely to be rising -- people have been arrested and about 4,000 people attended this rally. Rallies have also been conducted elsewhere in the country.

There is a vote of no confidence scheduled for Monday against the government of Mr. Macron in the National Assembly. But even if that goes against him, it doesn't mean that he has to step down as president. He is elected independently of the National Assembly.

And then on Thursday, the unions, both private and public sector unions, are expected to bring many, many millions, they hope, out on strike and possibly onto the streets of the entire country in protest against these economic reforms -- Sam Kiley, CNN, in Paris.


HARRAK: A monumental ruling in the investigation into former president Donald Trump's handling of classified documents, the court ruling that could make his attorney one of the most crucial witnesses in the investigation. That's ahead.





HARRAK: Welcome back to all of our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Laila Harrak and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. A blockbuster ruling in the special counsel's investigation of Donald

Trump's mishandling of classified documents: a federal judge has ordered one of the former president's lawyers to answer more questions before the grand jury, agreeing with prosecutors that there should be an exception to the attorney-client privilege.

The second round of testimony that could make the lawyer, Evan Corcoran, one of the most crucial witnesses in the investigation. Katelyn Polantz reports.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department and special counsel Jack Smith have won a monumental court decision on Friday in their investigation into Donald Trump and his handling of classified records.

In this decision that they got under seal from Federal Judge Beryl Howell in the D.C. District Court on Friday, that decision says that conversations between Trump's attorney, Evan Corcoran, and Donald Trump himself may have been part of the commissioning of a crime.

So that's what a federal judge is now agreeing with the Justice Department on that. That is a really, really significant thing, the sort of legal opinion that's going to be remembered and give momentum to not just the special counsel's investigation but also be remembered for presidencies to come.

What the practical impact of this is that Evan Corcoran, the defense attorney for Donald Trump, he already testified in federal court before the grand jury investigating the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Judge Howell at D.C. District Court is saying he's going to have to come back now and finish his testimony. All of the things he declined to answer because he said they were confidential, because they were attorney-client communications.


POLANTZ: Those sorts of conversations he cannot protect any longer because of what the Justice Department has done in this case.

Donald Trump's team, they do have the opportunity to appeal and they are vowing to fight this. But they still haven't even seen the extent of the legal reasoning from Judge Howell. The opinion is not fully available to them yet. They are probably going to get a redacted version of it in the coming days.

So they won't know exactly what the Justice Department has at this time in this criminal investigation. And all of this is still sealed to the public, as special counsel Jack Smith wraps up his grand jury investigation into classified records -- Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRAK: Meantime, in the New York investigation into the hush money scheme involving adult film star Stormy Daniels, multiple sources tell CNN that a possible indictment against Trump could come as early as next week.

They say city, state and federal law enforcement agencies met all week to discuss the logistics of indicting a former U.S. president. Talks included navigating Trump's potential surrender, processing his arrest and handling his appearance at arraignment.

While security was another major focus, authorities are concerned about protests outside the courthouse and also about threats against officials from Trump supporters.

Voters in Africa's most populous nation are heading back to the polls today to elect new governors in 28 out of Nigeria's 36 states. The election was delayed by a week so the country's electoral commission could reconfigure the voting machines used during February's presidential election.

Among the governorships up for grabs is Lagos, which has a $4 billion budget and is home to a city of 20 million people. It comes nearly a month after the controversial presidential election which was criticized by opposition parties and foreign observers.

Let's get you more now on this story. I'm joined by Stephanie Busari who is in Lagos, Nigeria.

Stephanie, set the scene for us please. Just weeks ago, the country held presidential elections. There was high drama.

How would you describe the mood this time around?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR AFRICA EDITOR: Good morning, Laila. So I would describe the mood as tense. There's been a lot of heated rhetoric in the leadup to these state governor's elections. And people are apprehensive because of the experience from the presidential elections.

As you say, there was a lot of drama there. We went to polling units at that time where there were outbreaks of violence. People were attacked; widespread reports of delays, some polling units just didn't open at all.

So people are wondering, can the electoral commission, INEC, as it's known here, deliver the smooth-running elections that it's promised Nigerians?

Can it deliver a system where the results are uploaded immediately in real time to this fancy technology portal that it's promised that Nigerians will have, to have a free and fair election?

So many questions. People are apprehensive. We're expecting low voter turnout. It's a rainy day, as you can probably see. And in the leadup to this, there has been a tense rhetoric between some of the political parties that may keep some voters away -- Laila. HARRAK: Stephanie, why do Nigeria's gubernatorial elections matter?

BUSARI: So these elections matter because these states control substantial budgets. And as you mentioned, this state we're in, Lagos state, it controls a $4 billion budget. It's a significant amount. This is one of the wealthiest cities in Africa.

This is a bit of a boom town if you like. This is where people come to seek their fame and fortune. This also is a key battleground state because the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, is known as the godfather of Lagos. He lost this state in what some say is a shock result, to Peter Obi, in the presidential election.

And what we're seeing is a bit of a Peter Obi effect, with one of the candidates here, known as Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who is the youth candidate from Peter Obi's party. They're really throwing their weight behind him.

They want to repeat the loss that Bola Tinubu suffered in the presidential elections and they're hoping they can replicate that. Polls will open in just about an hour's time and we'll see if we can have a smooth-running and free and fair elections -- Laila.

HARRAK: Stephanie Busari reporting. Thank you so much, Stephanie.

Still ahead --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So yes, it's breaking news. Alison Hammond is joining the team of "The Great British Bake Off."

Alison, have you got any words whatsoever?


HARRAK (voice-over): The popular British TV show about baking gets a new host.

Will she rise to the occasion?





HARRAK: Fans around the world of the popular TV show "The Great British Bake Off" have something to look forward to, a new host. She's none other than Alison Hammond, a well-known presenter, who also co- hosted this year's BAFTA Film Awards. The announcement was made on Friday on social media. Hammond staged mock interviews of herself and her co-stars with dolls

that were, of course, baked into a cake.


HARRAK: Hammond became famous as a contestant on the "Big Brother" show in the U.K. more than 20 years ago. She's also hosted ITV's "This Morning."

Great stuff.

The front man for the rock band The Cure may have a partial remedy for high ticket prices. Robert Smith took on the retailer Ticketmaster after some fans paid more in fees than the face value of tickets.

Well, now the singer says Ticketmaster would refund $10 per ticket for some fans and $5 for others. Ticketmaster has come under fire for so- called surge pricing, that includes high fees to see superstars such as Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen.

We'll take a quick break. For our viewers in North America, we have more news for you in just a moment. For our international viewers "MARKETPLACE EUROPE" is up next.





HARRAK: NATO is putting its military muscle behind some of Europe's energy lifelines.

The reason?

Two incidents in recent months have exposed the potential vulnerability of Europe's energy infrastructure. As Fred Pleitgen witnessed in the waters off Norway, NATO is now working to safeguard energy facilities.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As tensions mount after collision between a Russian plane and a U.S. drone over the Black Sea, NATO's head tells me, the alliance stands firmly behind the U.S.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: What they're seeing is reckless and irresponsible behavior by Russia. That led to this incident in the Black Sea. The good thing is that the United States behaved at the utmost professionally.

PLEITGEN: And security on the seas is a huge issue for NATO. We flew to one of Europe's largest gas fields with a secretary general and the head of the EU commission, as NATO warships were guarding the rig, watchful for possible acts of sabotage.

The U.S.'s allies understand full well that Russia's war in Ukraine is a threat, not just to the skies above the seas and on the seas but also to critical infrastructure under the sea as well. That's why the NATO alliance is beefing up its efforts to protect this critical infrastructure.

These are the actual wells of a troll gas field near Norway. Around 10 percent of the natural gas supplies for America's European allies come from this field alone after most of them stop buying gas from Russia.

Last year, the Nord Stream pipeline between Germany and Russia was blown up, in what the U.S. says was an act of sabotage. While some believe Ukrainians might be behind the explosion, Kyiv denies involvement and the EU commission head tells me Europe will continue to support Ukraine.

URSULA VAN DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We know in the European Union that Ukraine is not only fighting for its independence, serenity and freedom but also for the right of thousands we share, like the respect for the international law.

PLEITGEN: And Ukrainians say they will fight on. Kyiv saying the most intense battles are still taking place around Bakhmut, where the Russians claim they are graining ground.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Moscow next week. As the Russians are looking to further deepen ties and the U.S. believes, want Beijing to give them weapons. NATO's leader says security in Europe will only be guaranteed if Putin end the war against Ukraine.

STOLTENBERG: The best way to reduce risks of incidents like this is for Putin to end the war. Wars are dangerous and they lead to dangerous situations, like the incident of the Black Sea.

PLEITGEN: But as long as the war continues, NATO says its ships will stay on alert shielding the alliance members' critical infrastructure for possible attacks -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Bergen, Norway.


HARRAK: U.S. markets closed out a volatile week on Friday.


HARRAK (voice-over): Stocks ended the day down as the tumultuous banking sector continues to unnerve Wall Street. The Dow tumbled nearly 400 points or about 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq slipped 0.7 percent. And the S&P 500 fell more than 1 percent.

While there was a steep sell-off in the banking sector, a sign that investors are not satisfied with the response to the financial turmoil. First Republic saw its credit ratings downgraded by Moody's, which says the bank is facing significant challenges. Shares of First Republic plunged about 33 percent on Friday.

Meanwhile, PacWest is down about 19 percent and Zions Bank fell more than 7 percent. Investors are hoping next week's Federal Reserve meeting will shed more light on the trajectory of the economy.


HARRAK: Well, another bank causing concerns is Swiss lending giant Credit Suisse. CNN's Anna Stewart has the latest now from London.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You only need to look at the closing share price of Credit Suisse Friday to know its problems are far from over. The Swiss bank has been under pressure for several years, a result of various scandals and failures of risk management and corporate governance.

However, following the failure of Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S. and the resulting concern over the sector, well, that piled on the pressure. And so Credit Suisse, already a weak link, started to buckle.


STEWART: On Wednesday, the chairman of its biggest shareholder, Saudi National Bank, said it wouldn't be increasing its stake. He said that would push it above a regulatory threshold and argued the bank didn't need it.

Other investors didn't appear to agree. That day, Credit Suisse shares tanked, trading down 30 percent at one point. After the market closed, Switzerland's central bank said it could extend a line of liquidity if needed.

And Credit Suisse quickly agreed, accepting a loan of up to $53.7 billion. A relief rally followed Thursday but the rally lost luster as the day wore on. And on Friday it went in reverse.

Credit Suisse has closed the week down 26 percent despite the massive injection of money. It's already in the midst of a restructure but investors and clients are impatient. And if that continues, well, the bank may be forced to sell more of its units or be taken over altogether by a rival.

The markets have closed for the weekend but talks about Credit Suisse's future are likely underway. And the market open on Monday could see more share price volatility for this embattled bank -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


HARRAK: Hunter Biden has filed a lawsuit against the computer repairman who he accuses of invading his privacy and wrongfully sharing his personal data. The lawsuit alleges the repairman was opposed to Joe Biden's

presidential bid and that the laptop's data was given to, quote, "political enemies" to help the re-election of then president Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, the Biden family remains in the crosshairs of the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee; in part, because of the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop. CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju has the latest.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPNDENT (voice-over): House Republicans stepping up their probe into Hunter Biden and other members of President Joe Biden's family, digging into overseas business dealings with the Chinese energy company, hoping to find evidence tying the payments to the president himself but have yet to prove any link.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): There was a lot of money that transferred from China to the Bidens. And what we want to know is, what did China get in return?

RAJU: In a new memo, Republicans in the House Oversight Committee say three Biden family members in 2017 received over $1 million in, from a Shanghai-based company, state energy, it could limited.

The money came after Biden associate John Robinson Walker received a $3 million wire from the same company. A transaction that was first publicized by Senate Republicans in 2020. Walker then transferred a third of those funds to various Biden family bank accounts, over a three month period.

The new information uncovered by the House GOP, $35,000 in payments to Hallie Biden, Beau Biden's widow. $25,000 of which was linked to the Chinese energy company. Republicans also targeting the president's brother James and his son Hunter and also say they are probing an account linked to an unknown Biden.

The memo did not reveal any illegal action by the Biden family members. The president has long maintained, he had no involvement in any of these dealings.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else in anything to do with their businesses, period.

RAJU: The information quickly dismissed as a conspiracy by Hunter Biden's legal team, which noted, Hallie Biden was romantically involved with Hunter Biden after she became a widow following the death of the president's son Beau.

In a statement, his lawyer said that Hunter is a private citizen. With every right to pursue his own business endeavors, the money came from a business venture which he shared with his Uncle James Biden and Hallie Biden, with whom he was involved within the time and sharing expenses.

Today, Hunter Biden tried to take the offensive, countersuing a computer repairman who released information from his laptop, central to the GOP investigations against him.

The filing accused the technician John Paul Mac Isaac of invasion of privacy, claiming he sent a hard drive containing data inside a stuffed animal, to his father in New Mexico and also a copy to a lawyer who worked with Trump's then-attorney, Rudy Giuliani, all in a bid to help Trump win in 2020.

The laptop has become a Trump attack line.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hunter and Joe Biden, they go away free. What's going on with that?

I mean, that laptop is a disaster.

RAJU: Top Democrats are pushing back.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): There's a fixation on the Biden family by many Republican leaders. I think there are other issues that are more relevant and important in the lives of ordinary Americans.

RAJU: A lawyer for Mac Isaac declined to comment about Hunter Biden's new lawsuit on Friday, saying they would respond in court.

At the same time John Robinson Walker, who is that business associate of Hunter Biden's, has been targeted by House Republicans, who want him to sit down for a transcribed interview in the days ahead -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.



HARRAK: St. Patrick's Day was celebrated around the world on Friday, from the streets of Dublin --


HARRAK (voice-over): -- to smaller towns, like this parade in County Kerry, where there was even a pub on wheels. People are still celebrating the ability to get together in large crowds since the end of the pandemic.


HARRAK: And at the White House in Washington, U.S. President Biden greeted the Irish prime minister. The visit comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, which brought an end to decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

That wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Laila Harrak. Do stay with us. I'll be back with more coverage after a quick break. Hope to see you.